What Is Marshall Rosenberg's "Non Violent Communication," and How Can It Help You Communicate and Meet Your Needs During Divorce?

Divorce marks the end of one of the most important relationships in your life. Feeling hurt and angry is natural for both parties, and healing will take time. Unfortunately, these intense emotions complicate your interactions with your former spouse as you move forward. Since ongoing interaction is necessary for many couples, especially when children are involved, learning to manage these emotions and communicate effectively is essential. In addition, healthy communication helps during the divorce itself, especially during alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes like mediation. One way to improve your interactions with your former spouse is through the use of the Nonviolent Communication strategy.

What is Nonviolent Communication?

Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a style of communication developed by note psychologist and author, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Its purpose is to eliminate judgment and accusation from the communication process to facilitate a peaceful resolution of issues. Dr. Rosenberg conceived of it as a language of feelings and needs: “NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs. People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in their communication, increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.”


Nonviolent communication improves your interactions with your former spouse by:

  • Reducing defensiveness. If you feel angry or hurt during or after divorce, you are likely to blame your ex for these feelings. Although his or her actions may have stimulated these feelings, NVC maintains that he or she is not the actual cause of them. The feelings flow from unmet needs for things like safety, respect and autonomy.
  • Eliminating threats. When two people cannot communicate effectively, they become frustrated. As they continue to try to get what they need from the other party, both sides often resort to demands, threats and other unhealthy actions. Nonviolent communication prevents this frustration and the unhealthy behaviors that follow.
  • Preventing misunderstandings. NVC encourages both parties to be clear about their feelings and objectives, thus improving each party’s understanding of the other.
  • Fewer confrontations. NVC allows you and your ex to resolve differences before they escalate to fights.
  • Improving your relationship. As you practice nonviolent communication, you and your spouse should get better at resolving issues, healing past wounds and building a better relationship moving forward. Although you are no longer partners, NVC allows you to interact in a healthy way when necessary.

The Maryland family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group are experienced in tradition litigation as well as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches, such as collaborative divorce. Call (888) 530-4374 to speak with our team in private to achieve your case and get the clarity you need.

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